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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Self-reliance doesn’t mean that we do everything ourselves: ISRO chief

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman S. Somanath on Friday said that self-reliance doesn’t mean that we do everything ourselves.

Delivering the inaugural address in the Department of Space programme on Self-reliance in Space Technology, Mr. Somanath said, “Indian space story is a story of atmanirbhartha (self-reliance), promoting atmanirbhartha. I would like to look at this word once again more carefully. What exactly do you mean by atmanirbhartha? I believe that it is nothing but if we want to do something we are not denied the possibility of doing it. It is simple like that. So, it doesn’t mean that you do everything by yourself. I think that meaning is not there”.

Mr. Somanath added that in a world which is getting more connected and inclusive we cannot take such a stand that we are going to do everything ourselves and be in a closed society.

“Of course, such a society cannot grow because growth happens by participating with so many other people. I think this has been the trademark of ISRO as well when we started the whole programme of space we were not equipped to do it and we took support and help from so many people across the world, including advanced nations to initiate the capability and development in this country and we see the fruits of the benefit, ” Mr. Somanath added.  

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Mr. Somanath said that when India’s space programme started there were a lot of questions as to why ISRO was doing it.

“Today it is very easy to say that we are already a developed nation, but we don’t even understand the difficulties and issues faced by the forefathers in even thinking about it (space programme),” Mr. Somanath said.

Citing the example of how India is still lagging in the domain of electronic chips, he said that it is going to take another 10-20 years for India to come up to some level in this sector.

“Whom do we blame today? For what actions we did not take I think we will be blamed in the future. But space is definitely not a case to be mentioned like that. It is something that we must be proud of as there were at least few men and women to envision it, support it and create it in India so that we can talk about opening up the space sector, expanding space enterprise etc,” he said.

Mr. Somanath said that when India started its space programme it was lagging behind as it did not even have chemicals that make propellants and that even steel and aluminium used for building rockets and satellites were not made in India.

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“Today all of them are made in India, 90 per cent of the PSLV is actually produced in India, of course there are still imports which include alloying elements of the steel and there are electronic components that are still being imported in a substantial number, but that percentage is very small. But for spacecraft if you look at it is still 50 per cent, only 50 per cent of the value is produced in India, which means 50 per cent of the value is spent on import content,” he said.

He once again reiterated that it is not a bad thing to import systems because there are better products available outside so that we can make a more efficient and cost effective satellite.

“If you really want to expand the satellite building activity in this country we will ever be choked. Will we ever be able to get the best of the processors and chips that are made in the world at our disposal so that we can design a better satellite and compete with others in this same domain? These questions have to be addressed,” he said.

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